Our hope and prayer is that you have prayed for, and that the Lord has given you the spiritual discernment to identify people who are not true blue in their intentions regarding you. Have you ever had a case where you shared many things in common with someone but a couple of issues and slight differences gave you concern? Sometimes those seemingly insignificant differences can prove to be destructive and divisive. Let’s talk about that…
In Ezra chapter 4 the first hiccup occurs for this remnant band of rebuilders. Notice in verse 1 that the Word of God identifies a group of people as adversaries. Bible historians identify these adversaries as Samaritans who had been brought to Judah as captives of an Assyrian king named Esarhaddon. This king has gone down as the most powerful king that Assyria ever knew with territory that reached from into Egypt to Babylon and beyond. He had three palaces, one of which was designed after King Solomon’s palace. Dr. Ironside informs us that in II Kings 17 that this people added Jehovah into their varied worship by placing some of “the lowest of them” as priests who offered sacrifice in high places to appease this great and terrible God of the children of Israel. So there is the history of these adversaries. They had made a profession of a form of faith without owning the Lord as their sole savior. And now they wanted to join and become a part of what was going on in the work in Jerusalem.
What’s the point, Preacher? The point is that they were identified as adversaries and they proved themselves to be as such. They desired to attach themselves to the work with reasoning that goes like, “We worship the same God. We are just like you except a little different.” Sound familiar? [You know, water and hydrogen peroxide are just one Oxygen molecule different… take yourself a big swig to see if a little difference makes enough difference.] They wanted access and identity so they could infiltrate and entrench themselves in the work. We saw what happened in this situation in various places in scripture. The Children of Israel coming out of Egypt had “a mixed multitude” who were not believers that went out with them and brought idol worship along. Jesus and the disciples had Judas. Now, the Lords remnant in Ezra had these polytheistic Samaritans who, with great jealousy, wanted to get in on the building project that was renovating Jerusalem.
Thank God that the eldest priests, the ones who had seen the glory of the original temple and the grievous consequences of mixing idol worship with God’s worship, did not allow these adversaries to join in the work of the house of God. Well, that resolve by the men of God led to the adversaries revealing their true colors. These adversaries did not express understanding or offer to be a blessing in any way possible but they hindered the work. They began to “weaken the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building.” They frustrated their purpose legally, by false accusation unto the authorities. They tried through the reign of Cyrus with no avail until they could get to king Artaxerxes who heard their accusations as truth and stopped the work. Those adversaries used “force and power“(v23-24) to stop the remnant. Does that sound like someone who has the same belief, same convictions, same heart for God?
Our warning today is not to allow folks who are eager, eloquent, talented, wealthy, or willing just to come in and plug into the ministries of a church without being proven as trustworthy. We have seen too many times in our day where a group of believers with a need of leadership or laypersons finds a person on their doorstep who has an ability that can fill that need and immediately allows access, which leads to influence, which becomes advantage, which develops allegiance, which leads to abominations becoming acceptable in the house of God. Before anyone realizes what had happened, an adversary has become the authority. That progression leads to the realization that things are so entangled that only near total destruction and rebuilding is the only way to stop it. “It’s too late now” some will sadly say.
Our admonition: Be very wary, extremely careful, use Godly discernment in who your church allows to join in the work. Don’t go away saying that this preacher said we should not welcome sinners, but, rather that sinners must be truly saved before incorporated in the works of the body of a church. There must be Holy Ghost discernment applied and Holy Ghost approval in who is doing the work of the church.
The good news is found in the following chapters. The work resumed, the temple, the homes and the walls were built. God’s work will never be defeated by the adversary.
God Bless You!
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